IV gags the Bible at IU/InterVarsity event promoting sodomy (part IV)...

(Tim: this is fourth in a series of posts [one, two, three, four, five, six, seven] responding to to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's promotion of sodomy at a Indiana University campus forum they sponsored the evening of Monday, March 28, 2011.)

“The unique Divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible.”                         - InterVarsity’s Doctrinal Basis

Sola Scriptura is a cornerstone of Protestantism. From the beginning, Protestants have objected to the idea that we can know God and what He commands from any source other than His divinely revealed Word. As the Westminster Confession puts it: “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” I.10

Of the many things that were wrong with the event “Jesus and the end of Homophobia” hosted by Indiana University’s InterVarsity chapter, the most disturbing was the silencing of God’s Word. As a Protestant, Evangelical organization, InterVarsity is supposed to be committed to the Bible. It is supposed to be committed to the Bible because it is in the Bible that God speaks to us most clearly. If we have a question about Who God is and what He requires of us, the Bible is where Protestants turn for the answer.

But that is not what happened at last week’s event. Last week, InterVarsity sponsored an event where the Bible was not allowed into the discussion. God was not allowed to speak through His Word...

During a Q & A session at the end of the talk, a student asked a question that was based on the Bible. The question specifically asked the speaker how he dealt with the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexuality. The speaker responded by saying that he couldn’t answer the question. As part of the ground rules for the talk he was not allowed to deal with matters of “theology.” The words of Jesus were not acceptable as part of a discussion of “Jesus and the end of Homophobia.”

Inviting a speaker who will be edgy (or perhaps even out of accord with what the organization believes--and perhaps even gravely wicked) is not necessarily wrong. Skeptic societies can invite Christians to argue for God's existence and Christian groups can invite atheists to come and give a talk. So I can see a place for InterVarsity to invite some speakers who are pretty out there.

But, what I cannot comprehend is the idea of InterVarsity hosting an event, inviting a speaker, having a Q & A, and then declaring that the Bible is off-limits for discussion. InterVarsity believes that the Bible is authoritative, has unique divine inspiration, and is entirely trustworthy. That an InterVarsity sponsored event could be held that expressly did not want the Bible to be brought up is horrifying. That this event could be called "Jesus and the end of Homophobia" and yet explicitly exclude the words that Jesus said and the things that Jesus taught is horrifying. IU’s Religious Studies department would never participate in an event on Jesus and homophobia where the Bible was not allowed to be used, but InterVarsity Christian Fellowship did.

Apart from the other ways that this event was wicked, it cut off the best recourse for students who love Jesus: the Word that Jesus has given to us. Students who recognized the gulf between the speaker and the Bible were not even allowed to raise the question. Even when InterVarsity does everything else wrong, we can wish that it would do this right.

I can remember back to the summer of 2002 when I spent a month at Cedar Campus in Michigan attending the School of Leadership Training. SLT is a month-long leadership training camp for college students. It is the most in-depth student training that InterVarsity does. There was a night during the third week that they had a one hour panel discussion with the title "Women and the Spiritual Gifts" or something like that. The primary purpose of the hour was to argue that the Spirit gives gifts to all believers, that all the gifts are given to both women and men, and hence that it was fine for women to teach men, be in positions of authority, be pastors, etc. It was not a 50-50 debate; all of the panelists were agreed on the issue. It was a straightforward theological argument for Evangelical Feminism.

There was a Q & A time at the end and I was the only person in the audience who raised a dissenting voice. I did so with the Word of God. I asked a question about 1 Timothy 2 where Paul says that the reason women are not supposed to teach or exercise authority over men is that Adam was created first. I raised the point that Paul grounds his command in the order of creation, not in anything having to do with cultural circumstances. So, I asked, might there be a basis for prohibiting women in authority because of the way man was created rather than because of a cultural particularity of the Ancient Near East. The answer? No, it is still cultural. Paul’s instruction was for that time and place, not for every time and place. The answer was an obvious cop-out and a failure to seriously grapple with the text of Scripture. I do not know if a single person there was at all moved by my question. But, I do know that I was free to ask it, and free to use the Bible to try to influence the thought of those who were present, and that the speakers felt an obligation to at least answer the question.

From the published reports of last week's event (onetwo, three, four, and five), faithful students were not even permitted to use God's Word to bring God's truth to light. The thoughts of men were not brought before the judgment of the Word of God. The Bible was emphatically not treated as authoritative, divinely inspired, or uniquely trustworthy.

Comments

Wow, that is like picking out a toddler and asking him to define life.

I went to InterVasity's web site and in big letters in the middle of the page it says, "Loving God's Word."

Really?

Under these blog posts documenting InterVarsity's promotion of homosexual sin recently here at Indiana University, a man has posted the same comment multiple times--the same text. His comment makes assertions concerning the inner workings of IV and its employees. Knowing he is not a spokesperson for IV and that his information is factually wrong, I've removed his comments and will not allow him to comment further about this matter.

IV has employees and they are the ones who are in a position to address this matter. And what should they say?

They need to announce to the Indiana University campus that their speaker and staff workers were unfaithful to Jesus Christ and His Word in what they promoted and said. This is beyond question what should have been done last week, immediately after the offense occurred. The fact that it hasn't happened yet, a week later, is an indication of the deeper structural failures of IV's leadership. At this point, IV has had a week to clean this up and they have refused to act. Two veteran staff workers, two of IV's vice presidents, and the office of the president have been contacted multiple times, starting one week ago, with the request that this matter be corrected here at Indiana University. Calls have not been returned and the responses of those who have spoken for IV have only made matters worse, if the Bible is our standard.

As you mentioned above, I am an IV staff worker so I feel I have a place to address this issue. I recently finished an IV Press (sorry you apparently see no need for the publisher) book addressing hermeneutics. To illustrate the point, the author utilized the topics of slavery, women, and homosexuality. One major point discussed within the book was women in authority. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 was one of the texts specifically addressed. I'm curious why you entirely reject the cultural possibility of Paul's writing here. I will admit I'm currently wrestling with the issue as well but it does seem likely that cultural elements influenced Paul's writing. Women were less experienced socially, educationally, and relationally in that day as they had been throughout history. Today's women have greater education and sociological exposure that women of Biblical times so the culture clearly has changed. I love that InterVarsity affirms the divine inspiration of all Scripture and I currently teach my students to be stewards of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If women have absolutely no place to ever be in authority why do we have the stories of Deborah, Huldah, or other new Testament figures?

This women's issue parallels the homosexuality issue in some cases as InterVarsity staff and students seek to bridge the gap across all of Scripture. We absolutely don't want to affirm practicing homosexual lifestyles because the hermeneutic of Scripture is overwhelming opposed to such lifestyles. But Jesus says the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors. True love certainly addresses sin but does so out of a humble spirt (Phil. 2:3-5). The difficulty of full time campus work with students is that we can't simply begin tossing isolated verses out to students and expect them to confess Christ. We must fully wrestle with all of Scripture in its fullness.

Andrew,

Is this the book you read?

In Slaves, Women & Homosexuals William J. Webb tackles some of the most complex and controversial issues that have challenged the Christian church--and still do.

He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings. Throughout, Webb attempts to "work out the hermeneutics involved in distinguishing that which is merely cultural in Scripture from that which is timeless" (Craig A. Evans).

By the conclusion, Webb has introduced and developed a "redemptive hermeneutic" that can be applied to many issues that cause similar dilemmas.

Darrel L. Bock writes in the foreword to Webb's work, "His goal is not only to discuss how these groups are to be seen in light of Scriptures but to make a case for a specific hermeneutical approach to reading these texts. . . . This book not only advances a discussion of the topics, but it also takes a markedly new direction toward establishing common ground where possible, potentially breaking down certain walls of hostility within the evangelical community."

Yes that's the book.

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